I. BUILDING AND GROWTH
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church came into being, under the grace of God, through the ministry of Rev. Frederick Hahn, who was then serving as Missionary-at-large for the South Wisconsin District of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS). Rev. Hahn surveyed the Okauchee area to explore the possibility of establishing a mission congregation in this summer lake community. The results of his survey led him to begin conducting services in the American Legion as early as June 1947. The Lord blessed this ministry and on November 2, 1947, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Okauchee, Wisconsin was formally organized and in 1948 joined the LCMS.
The congregation then called its first resident pastor. Candidate Merlin C. Meyer, a recent seminary graduate, was installed on August 1, 1948. Later that year, they began the construction of their first sanctuary and parsonage—a ranch-type home with a large chapel space. In 1950, Rev. Meyer accepted a call to Minneapolis.
On August 13, 1950, candidate Edmund Peters was installed as pastor at Holy Trinity. In 1952 the congregation erected a parsonage next to the existing chapel, so that the sanctuary and parsonage would be separate buildings. In 1954 Rev. Peters accepted a call to Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Holy Trinity then called candidate Harold W. Schroeter to be the next pastor, and he was installed in August of 1954. As the congregation grew in numbers it became apparent that the chapel building was no longer suitable for the congregation’s needs. In 1960 plans were drawn up for a new church building. The present sanctuary was then constructed and dedicated on August 11, 1963. In 1965, Rev. Schroeter accepted a call to Garland, Texas.
II. CHANGE AND STABILITY
The congregation called Rev. Robert J. McMiller to serve as the next pastor, and he was installed on October 17, 1965.
During Rev. McMiller’s time, the LCMS was wrestling with doctrinal problems. Beginning in 1967 Holy Trinity began to openly express its concerns to its parent church body over the obvious tendency to compromise Biblical truth. However, it was soon apparent that its formal petitions to the synod were of no avail. Because of this, the congregation voted in 1971 to publically protest against the false doctrine being tolerated in the LCMS, and in 1972 the congregation officially left the LCMS, becoming an independent Lutheran congregation.
Together with several other congregations which left the LCMS for doctrinal reasons, Holy Trinity became a charter member of the Federation for Authentic Lutheranism (FAL). After a few years, the FAL organization was absorbed into the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), and its member congregations joined those church bodies. Holy Trinity became a member of the ELS in 1976 and remains a member to this day.
During this period, Holy Trinity began a Lutheran elementary school. In 1975 classes started in the church basement and grew steadily. In 1980, the congregation built a new school building next to the church. This school building is still used today, and the congregation continues to enjoy the benefits of having a Lutheran school.
In 1986, Rev. McMiller accepted a call to Scottsdale, Arizona, and Holy Trinity called Rev. Gaylin R. Schmeling to be their next pastor. He was installed August 3, 1986. During this time the congregation enjoyed continued stability and growth as both a church and school. Plans began to be made for the congregation’s 50th anniversary. These plans included a major addition to the church and school buildings. However, before these building plans were carried out, Rev. Schmeling accepted the call to be president of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Mankato, Minnesota, in 1997.
III. EXPANSION AND PROGRESS
The congregation then called Rev. Kurt Smith who was installed on July 13, 1997. The major building addition, joining together the separate church and school buildings by adding additional classrooms and a large fellowship center, was completed and dedicated to the glory of God in 1998. Rev. Smith accepted a call to Weston, Ohio in 2000.
Rev. Jonathan N. Madson was installed as Holy Trinity’s next pastor on September 24, 2000. In 2001, the congregation purchased the Okauchee Elementary School which was next door to Holy Trinity and was closed by the public school district a few years ealier.This purchase more than doubled the size of Holy Trinity’s physical campus.
Seeing the need to expand their ministry, in 2013 Holy Trinity decided to call a second pastor. Rev. Daniel J. Hartwig was installed on June 23, 2013, and continues to serve with Rev. Madson today.
The Lord has blessed Holy Trinity through many years with many physical blessings. However, the richest blessing we have received is salvation through Christ. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and through His Word and Sacraments we know He has taken our sins away too. Now we have the privilege of sharing Him with the greater Okauchee community.